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Chapter 19: The John Frank and Bertha Fray Dicken House are the focus of this latest piece

The John Frank and Bertha Fray Dicken's House is located at 102 Fifth Street in Molalla, Oregon. The architecture is English Tudor Cottage Style.

There are a few of these Tudor Style homes in Molalla. You will first notice the decorative gable-end half-timbering and arched window and door openings. They sometimes have decorative stoneware chimneys with chimney pots. Occasionally, they might have an immitation "thatched" roof. Compostion roofing is rolled at the edge to simulate straw thatch. This particular house has a stucco finish and attractive English garden landscaping. The house was built by Frank Dicken, who was a pillar of the community, and founded Dicken & Co., a dry goods and grocery store. The store served the community for over 50 years. The family lived in the house for over 60 years. Raymond Hatch, of Portland, was the architect who designed the house. Mr. Hatch also designed the 1926 Molalla High School building. The house is in excellent condition and is privately owned.

GAIL MCCORMICK - The John Frank & Bertha Fray Dicken's House is at 102 Fifth Street in Molalla, Oregon. The architecture is English Tudor Cottage Style.  The house is in excellent condition and is privately owned.  Photo from the author's collection.

Frank Dicken

John Frank Dicken, known as "Frank", was born in 1886, at Iowa. His parents were Aaron and Luella Osterhoudt Dicken. Frank's parents immigrated from Iowa, where they were farmers, to Scotts Mills, Oregon, in 1895. The 1910 Molalla Census finds him living, as a 24 year-old boarder, at the home of Oliver and Mary Robbins. He lists his occupation as "general store salesman". In 1911, Frank married Bertha Fray Adams. She was the daughter of George and Kate Adams. Kate was descended from both the Adams and the Robbins pioneer families that helped found the town of Molalla. To marry Frank, Bertha rode on horseback, from Molalla to the preacher's house in Oregon City.

The Store

Frank had worked for the Robbins Bros. Merchandise Store from 1905 to 1915. In 1915, he opened his own store, handling dry goods and groceries, in the P. C. Fermann building on South Molalla Avenue. In addition to groceries, the products he sold ranged from wool caps and blankets to Dr. Hess Poultry Pan-an-cea; from dishes to garden tools and from ladies dresses to men's coveralls. Around 1920, Dicken & Co. moved to the I.O.O.F. Building on East Main Street and enlarged the grocery section. In addition, Frank built a tile building immediately east of the I.O.O.F. building for the dry goods section. Dicken and Company was known as the "Store of Quality and Service".

We are given a glimpse into Frank's daily life with an exerpt from an unsual obituary, written for him by Bob Todd, of the Molalla Pioneer: "Even though it has been some time now since we had watched Frank pass by our home on his way to open the store, usually at 7 a.m. sharp, six days a week. However, in our heart's eye we still can see that old blue Chevy, Frank at the wheel, cruising slowly down Molalla Avenue on it's way to the store. Except in memory, we will no longer see Mr. Dicken sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store, waving cheerily to all who passed by. To many early risers his "Good morning, how are you?" was the real beginning of the day. Without this friendly, warm greeting to start the day, things just didn't seem to go quite right somehow. We have also seen Mr. Dicken hard at work trimming lettuce in the back room of the store. His deft hands made quick work of a crate of fresh produce and, somehow, seemed to make things taste a little sweeter".

MOLALLA AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY & BETTY GUILD - Frank and Bertha Adams Dicken on their wedding day, in 1911.  To marry Frank, Bertha rode on horseback, from Molalla to the preacher's house in Oregon City.

In March, 1944, the 40 foot high, two-story I.O.O.F. Building was destroyed by a fire that almost consumed a whole business block. All of the businesses in the I.O.O.F. Building were lost. Construction of a new Dicken's store opened in April, 1945, adjoining the new Orcutt Drug Store on the corner of East Main Street and North Molalla Avenue. The Dicken's building still exists today and is owned by Gary and Joan Deardorff, who remodeled it in 1979, into modern office suites. It is located at 103-105 East Main Street. Frank's son, Ronald, joined him in the grocery business after serving in the military in World War II. In 1955, Frank sold the dry good's section to his daughter, Betty, and her husband, George Guild. The grocery later became Dicken's Thriftway. On December 9, 1965, the Dicken family celebrated their 50th anniversary in the grocery business in Molalla.

Both Frank and Bertha lived to a very old age. Perhaps a result of spending their spare time at their Shady Dell log cabin on the Molalla River, where they enjoyed tending their roses. Frank died in 1977, at Molalla, Oregon, aged 90. Bertha died 1987, at Molalla, Oregon, aged 97.


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